I tried to make a point about language on another SE site and it flopped. So I realized that I was focusing on an idea of having two-valued assessment: good and bad. What if we did away with this positive - zero - negative value scale and went with an "Absolute" scale: there is zero and only upwards from there?

If we choose the scale of good --> better, then all the problems of evil, right and wrong, just go away, right?

  • I don't know who has explored them, but I call them metric theories of value, because they tend to follow the rules of a metric from mathematics. They are very useful when one is exploring structure as the thing of importance, because the lowest level of structure is "0 structure." – Cort Ammon Mar 15 '16 at 6:10
  • I don't really follow your second paragraph per se but the first paragraph is satisfied by maximization theories within consequentialism. It's much less clear that this solves any problems. – virmaior Mar 15 '16 at 7:49
  • If some action can move the world from good to better and be called an improvement, then the opposite action could be called a detriment, and be undesirable, which in a utilitarian worldview, at least (which it seems your question is premised on), is indistinguishable from evil. How would your theory deal with heinous acts from history? Are they simply "less good" for the world? – Dan Bron Mar 15 '16 at 15:48
  • @DanBron so if you were planning a vacation, and it was colder outside than you hoped, that would be evil? If you had expectations for how people should behave, and they were not met, you call that evil, but really, it is just less good than you hoped. Your perspective has a zero point from which you distinguish good and bad. But can't we set the zero point anywhere? Christians set it out of reach of everyone: we are all bad. Not so good in my opinion. How does this scale help anyone? The zero point becomes a point of contention, just dismiss it and get down to the real goal: improvement. – user16869 Mar 16 '16 at 12:58
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    @nocomprende Cold and hot are facts, not decisions. Ethical systems deal in decisions, such as whether to feed the needy or burn them with fire. Or would you be content to call the latter merely less good than the former? The implication of so asserting, in case I need to point it out explicitly, is that both decisions are formally good. And, beyond that dilemma, how do you deal with the inevitable disputes about what constitutes improvement vs its opposite? – Dan Bron Mar 16 '16 at 13:16

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